What is latitude?
We explain what latitude is and what longitude is. Also, what is latitude for, its relationship with the weather and some examples.
What is latitude?
When we talk about latitude, we mean the distance between any point on our planet Earth , and the line that divides it to the middle, that is, the equator. This distance is measured along the meridian in which said point is located, and is classified in two, according to the Earth hemisphere: north latitude and south latitude, correspondingly.
The latitude and longitude are planetary distances determining the global coordinates of a point, and measured in degrees (°), while its subdivisions or fractions of degrees measured in minutes ( ‘) and seconds ( “) sexagesimal. In this way, the equator is considered the zero degree (0 °) and each of the ninety degree poles (90 ° N for the north pole and 90 ° S for the south pole). It is also usual to represent the degrees of the northern hemisphere as positive (+ 90 °) and those of the south as negative (-90 °) .
Thus, the location of a specific point on the globe with respect to the equator can be expressed in these terms: 19 ° 29 ’52 ”N is the expression of the latitude of Mexico City, for example. To have its complete location (its coordinates, understanding the world map as a grid) we would need its length.
In the language of maritime navigation, latitude is represented by the Greek letter Phi (Φ).
Latitude and longitude
If the latitude expresses the location of a point on the globe with respect to the imaginary line of the equator, it will be understood that the longitude is the opposite value (perpendicularly), that is, the location of any point on the globe with respect to an imaginary axis that joins the two poles , and that coincides conventionally with the 0 meridian or Greenwich meridian . As with the equator for latitude, this meridian (which crosses the population of the same name in London, England) determines the 0 ° longitude, dividing the planet into two hemispheres: east and west, which is expressed to the time to determine the length of a point: 99 ° 7 ’37 ”Or is that of Mexico City.
The length is expressed in the language of maritime navigation with the Greek letter Lambda (λ).
What is latitude for?
Latitude and longitude are forms of global location of a point with respect to certain imaginary lines with which we divide our planet geographically into two : the equator and the Greenwich meridian. Both criteria, latitudinal and longitudinal, make up a grid or grid that we know as the Coordinate System, and which serves as a model for the satellite location, such as GPS. Thus, latitude and longitude are useful criteria for navigation (air, sea and land) and for geolocation.
On the other hand, latitude allows the terrestrial globe to be divided into more or less homogeneous climatic regions , according to the incidence of sunlight on each one.
Relationship between latitude and climate
Given its almost spherical shape and tilt movement , the different regions of the Earth receive solar radiation in a similar way, depending on their latitudinal location. Thus, the regions closest to the equator receive the most constant and homogeneous sunlight throughout the year , always direct, while the farthest regions receive it more or less intensely depending on how close or far they are, attending to the inclination of the earth’s axis. This is how the seasons occur, which are just the opposite in the northern hemisphere and in the south, and that in the regions near the poles there are nights and days of almost 6 continuous months, since this is the time that the planet takes in reversing its inclination and exposing one hemisphere or another to the sun.
Thus, latitude allows us to divide the planet into the following three climatic zones:
- Equatorial or intertropical zone. It is the region around the equator, in each hemisphere, extending to the imaginary lines of the Tropics: Cancer in the northern hemisphere (23 ° N) and Capricorn in the southern hemisphere (23 ° S). It is characterized by a warm and constant climate , without seasons (or little pronounced seasons, increasing as south latitude is gained). Jungle , savanna or desert ecosystems predominate .
- Temperate zone. It is next in latitude after the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, extending to the respective polar circles (66 ° 33 ’46 “N and 66 ° 33′ 46” S). It is characterized by a climate of greater thermal variety, with pronounced seasons and two climatic strips: the subtropical, near the tropics, and the subpolar, near the poles. Forests , meadows and deserts predominate .
- Polar or cold zone. The last climatic region, which extends from the polar circle of each hemisphere (Arctic in the north and Antarctic in the south) to the imaginary axis of the earth: the north pole and the south pole. It is characterized by a cold, windy climate, with large layers of ice and life adapted to bloody winters and cold summers .
The latitudinal description of some of the main cities in the world will serve as an example:
- NY. 43 ° 06 ’19 ”N
- London. 51 ° 30 ’46 ”N
- Paris. 48 ° 52 ‘0 ”N
- Berlin 52 ° 31 ’12 ”N
- Tokyo 35 ° 41 ’22 ”N
- Moscow. 55 ° 45 ’08 ”N
- Beijing 39 ° 90 ’40 ”N
- Buenos Aires. 34 ° 36 ’47 ”S
- Rio de Janeiro. 22 ° 43 ’23 ”S
- Bombay 19 ° 04 ’16 ”N
- Cairo. 30 ° 03 ’22 ”N
- Amsterdam 52 ° 22 ’26 ”N
- Madrid. 40 ° 25 ‘0 ”N
- Havana. 23 ° 6 ’59 ”N
- Sydney 33 ° 52 ‘0 ”S
- Johannesburg 26 ° 12 ’16 ”S